Birds, rats, bats, mice and other small rodents love nothing more than diving mouthfirst into your veggie patch, destroying anything that’s ripe for the picking.
Invest in 20ml white netting to protect your food garden from greedy little animals. Single strand plastic nets are a good cheap option, but double-wove nylon will last you for years. Stretch over a bamboo or PVC piping frame and secure at the bottom with rocks to avoid creatures getting caught. Not keen on netting? Deter those pests with a scarecrow, mirrors to reflect the sun or line tapes that hum in the wind.
Lots of vegetables, herbs, salad and fruits cannot survive the cold temperatures, rain and light frost of the Australian winter.
Avoid planting delicate brassicas or tomatoes between June and August. Instead, opt for hardier fennel, root vegetables, apples and onions. Although most people like to tuck their vegetable patch into a corner, winter plots will need a central position to allow maximum sun exposure. Although your vegetables need regular irrigation, avoid planting in very low-lying soil in case of flooding.
Carrots and potatoes are susceptible to spot diseases, while blossom end rot will cause a dry, sunken decay to develop on the bottom of your tomatoes.
As soon as you spot fungus or rot on any of your vegetables, remove the affected leaves or fruit, but don’t add them to your compost. To stop these diseases before they can develop, add dolomite lime or gypsum to soil before planting and make sure the earth has PH readings of around 6. Mulch plants regularly and avoid excessive pruning.
There are plenty of nightmare insects that you don’t want to munch through your vegetables. Cabbage moths, caterpillars and aphids are hungry for plants such as rocket, beetroot, celery and Brussels sprouts. Slugs and snails can kill young fruit trees.
Although some creepy critters can be blasted off your kitchen garden with a pressure hose, that’s no lasting remedy. If you see droppings, silver trails or holes in your leaves, you probably need to stop those pesky pests in their tracks with pellets or repellent sprays. Greener gardeners wanting to get rid of snails and slugs can slimily tempt these yeast lovers away from their veggies with a container of beer placed nearby!